A Spring Outing

A Spring Outing

Graeme wanted to get out on the trail to obtain some high speed shots of birds in flight with his Sony NEX-FS700 with SELP18200 lens.The easiest place to do that is on the many trails in the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt where the Chickadees and Nuthatches are quite happy to come in close and personal to obtain a sunflower seed or two from outstretched hands. Graeme was shooting at 1080p and either 240fps or 480fps. I on the other hand was shooting with my Nikon D300 and a 70-300 f2.8 lens. I restricted myself to 1 frame at a time. My finger can’t click at 480fps LOL. I hadn’t been out on the trails much this winter, so was a willing participant and offered him a hand – actually offered to hold out my hand with an offering of sunflower seeds.  The temperature has continued to be rather chilly so winter clothing was a necessity and outstretched hands can become uncomfortably cold rather quickly.

014_9206-Graeme

It was a Sunday, so the birds had already seen plenty of outstretched hands offering all sorts of bird seed. All along the trails, there were small piles of seed left behind by hikers and skiiers sharing the trails with the birds and the squirrels. After leaving a few seeds scattered among the snow-covered branches of the cedars alongside one portion of the trail, so that Graeme would have plenty of winged visitors to photograph, I headed further along the Sarsaparilla Trail to see if there was anything else that might catch my attention.

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There had been reports of a Barred Owl in the area and others had seen a Porcupine sleeping in the higher branches of the trees, but I saw neither. Often, when I walk along this trail, I will be greeted by a Blue Jay or two, but this particular day, the Chickadees were my only companions. There were signs that a Pileated Woodpecker had recently been hard at work, but as this large woodpecker tends to be a bit wary of humans. I suspect that this particular woodpecker had taken a few days off from its labours to avoid the weekend crowds of humans.

014_9211-Chickadee  014_9214-viewing-platform

014_9218-Pileated-holesWhen we arrived back at the parking lot, we found that someone had left a copious supply of seeds and peanuts at that spot, so we stopped again to watch the Chickadees and Red Squirrels return time after time for another bit of food to add to their cache. As we were about to leave, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch joined in and returned a few times.

014_9221-Chickadee 014_9222-Chickadee

014_9224-r-b--nuthatchOur next stop was the Bird Rescue center.  Although the sunshine was sufficient to melt some of the snow on the roof, it was still quite chilly when not in the sunshine.

014_9231Icicles-After that stop, we headed over to the Old Quarry Trail, hoping to see a White-tailed Deer or two. We saw only one doe this time around, and she was a bit skittish and raised her tail in alarm as the X/C skiiers passed by. The Chickadees and Red Squirrels were happy to entertain us, though, and in addition to a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, our more common feathered friends were also joined by one White-breasted Nuthatch. The sky was blue and the sun angle was warming, so I was able to tolerate standing with my hand out for quite a lengthy period of time, as about 20 Chickadees swooped in, one after another, to pick out their favourite seeds. Red Squirrels watched on waiting for their opportunity to run in and get something to eat.

014_9245-w-b-nuthatch  014_9253-red-squirrel 014_9256-Red-SquirrelTwo years earlier, the temperature was significantly warmer and snow had all melted away.  Not this year, though!!!  Nice to be able to interact with the birds and mammals we find along the trails and provide them with a few more seeds to help them get through the winter.

2012 – Tulips at Dow’s Lake, Ottawa

2012 – Tulips at Dow’s Lake, Ottawa

May 11, 2012 – Since returning from our Pennsylvania trip I have been sorting through Pennsylvania images and looking out the window at generally overcast skies and rainy weather so hadn’t got down to Dow’s Lake to see this year’s tulip display.  Continue reading

Winterlude 2012 – Skating on the Rideau Canal

Winterlude 2012 – Skating on the Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is billed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and maintains bragging rights as the World’s largest skating rink. In a good year, the frozen canal surface provides an enjoyable skating experience from the Rideau Locks by the Ottawa Convention Center all the way to Dow’s Lake. How long the skating surface is, or how large the skating surface is at any given point in time during the winter, is highly weather dependent (Ice conditions). Continue reading

Ice Carving – Winterlude 2012 – Confederation Park, Ottawa, Ontario

– February 3rd, 2012 – Ice Carving – Winterlude 2012 (Bal de Neige) – Confederation Park, Ottawa, Ontario

After standing on Parliament Hill watching the Winterlude opening fireworks display, we headed over to Confederation Park (location) to see how the ice carvers were doing with their large blocks of ice.  A number of ice carvings had already been completed before the official opening of the Winterlude events and there were a number of illuminated smaller carvings around the fountain area.

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Winterlude 2012 – National Capital Commission – Ottawa/Gatineau

Winterlude 2012 – National Capital Commission – Ottawa/Gatineau

Today marks the first day of The National Capital Commission winter festival, “Winterlude”.

Where: Ottawa, Ontario & Gatineau, Quebec (former Hull, Quebec). During the period of festivities there are activities in many locations but the primary locations are at Confederation Park (Ice Sculptures and Ice Carving), Jacques Cartier Park (Children’s snow slides) and along the Rideau Canal between Wellington Street and Dow’s Lake.

When: dawn to dusk and later each day from February 3rd, 2012 until closing on February 20th, 2012. During that period of time, Graeme and I will be attending various events and posting photos on our website.

Tonight, February 3rd: photo opportunity for fireworks near the Alexandra Bridge at about 9PM (location)

Lots of detailed information is available at the National Capital Commission’s Official Winterlude Website.

Death on the Old Quarry Trail

Death on the Old Quarry Trail

Usually when I walk along the Old Quarry Trail, it is a time for relaxation and the enjoyment of the wonderful natural surroundings and wildlife around me. Today, sadly, those wonderful moments were marred by the discovery of the death of two of the white-tailed deer that often come out to share the trail with me. It appeared to me that the cause of death was by humans rather than by coyote or other animal and that is what made the scene the more disturbing.

Since it was a weekend, there were plenty of individuals and families out enjoying the trails for the day and, aside from the killing sites, the rest of the woods was like a winter wonderland with plenty of ice-covered branches glistening and sparkling where welcome shafts of sunlight shone down on the trail or penetrated deep into the shadows of the thicker wooded areas.


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More Chickadee Feeding on the Sarsaparilla Trail

More Chickadee Feeding on the Sarsaparilla Trail

The amount of snow that we received on Christmas Day was not spectacular but definitely enough to turn everything white! Continue reading

WOW! Three bucks for a carrot!

WOW! Three bucks for a carrot!

I was heading over to visit my father when I decided to take a few minutes to stretch my legs on the Old Quarry Trail. Before going to look for deer or turkeys to photograph, I stopped to talk to Catherine and her helper dog Lincoln. Of course, Lincoln and I got along very well once I started scratching his neck (after asking the owner’s permission first).

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Searching for Deer on the Old Quarry Trail, Kanata, Ontario

Searching for Deer on the Old Quarry Trail, Kanata, Ontario

Searching is probably not the best word since finding deer along the Old Quarry Trail is almost a certainty on most days. I’ve seen as many as thirty (30) White-Tailed Deer in the surrounding fields some evenings but still enjoy going along the trail looking for a few more does to photograph or the somewhat more elusive bucks. I had started out with the chickadees at the Sarsparilla Trail and then, as it was getting closer to dusk, I headed over to the Old Quarry Trail.
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Sarsaparilla Trail and the Chickadees (again :-))

Sarsaparilla Trail and the Chickadees (again :-))
It was a perfect Fall day with temperatures above freezing, a beautiful blue sky overhead and little or no wind so I took a few minutes away from the computer to go out on the Sarsaparilla Trail in Ottawa’s National Capital Commission Greenbelt. The parking lot was full. That is always a good indication that the birds will be well fed as families and individuals stop at various locations along the trail to offer up a handful of seeds for the accommodating Chickadees.
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